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Birth rates are at an all-time low in the United States – and the demographics experts don’t have a good feeling about it.
The number of American ladies willing to give birth is decreasing, something which translates to a dangerously low birth rate in the US.
Birth rates below a specific limit can be a great problem for a nation and the US might be at the brink of running into that sort of problems.
According to the figures from the National Vital Statistics System, the birth rate in the US for 2018 was 59.1 per 1000 women aged 15 to 44.
In 2017, the figure stood at 60.3 for 1000 women of the same age group.
According to experts, such a decline in the number of births can turn the US into a demographic time bomb. It’s a condition when the rate of fertility go down while life expectancy increases.
The trouble is, if this trend continues, it won’t be long before the number of young people required to run the country and take care of the elderly will not be enough.
Researchers say if the situation is not given due attention and the problem is not resolved, this can even lead to the population of the country going extinct.
Dr. Eve Feinberg, a gynecologist, says the extremely low birth rates in the US are mainly due to women planning to get pregnant at older ages as well as the lack of fertility-related information.
Speaking to INSIDER, Dr. Feinberg said: “People overestimate the success of fertility treatment. While it is successful, it has limitations at older ages.”
Average American ladies are now having their firstborn at ages older than they did some time ago.
According to a 2018 study conducted by National Vital Statistics System, the age at which an average woman gives birth to her first child increased by 1.3 years in rural, 1.5 in suburban, and 1.8 in metropolitan counties from 2007 to 2017.
The report also showed that the overall average age for first birth increased from 23.2 years to 24.5 years during the decade the study spanned. The trend of delaying the first birth has serious implications on the country as a whole.
Dr. Feinberg said: “We’re seeing more infertility with first-child and second-child pregnancies.”
According to Dr. Feinberg, the infertility issues are mostly caused when a person relies on fertility treatment more than what’s needed.
Also, most women delay their pregnancies and plan to get fertility treatments or alternatives like in-vitro fertilization later in life, believing these options to be fool-proof but they are not.
“While IVF is successful, it has limitations at older ages, IVF isn’t really useful after the age of 44,” Dr. Feinberg said.
She said that Hollywood has a negative impact on female viewers since they tend to believe that they can delay their pregnancies as long as celebrities.
In reality, “most of those babies are made with a donor egg,” the doctor added.
In Dr. Feinberg’s opinion, women should consider options like egg freezing rather than IVF if they want to get pregnant at a later age.
This process includes freezing the eggs retrieved from the uterus of a woman while she is fertile and freezing them for use at a later age. Dr. Feinberg said that the average egg freezing age is currently 38 but it should be 35, when the female is at the peak of fertility.
Due to the lack of proper education about these options, women don’t consider them until it is too late to avail one.
“Younger patients don’t want to think about it and older maybe think about it when it’s too late,” Dr. Feinberg explained. “If more women freeze eggs and freeze a lot at a young age, that could be a game changer.”
Even egg freezing doesn’t guarantee a pregnancy. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the chances of a frozen egg actually creating a baby are as low as 2 to 12 per cent, even if the eggs are taken from someone below 38 years of age.
Among the factors which have contributed to declining birth rate, fewer teen pregnancies is the only positive.
As of the last year, the pregnancies in girls aged 15 to 19 decreased by 7%. In 2017, there were 18.8 births per one thousand women in that age bracket, as compared to 17.4 in 2018.
“Our sole purpose in life as women is not to bear children, so the rise in education and availability of good contraceptives are all very progressive for women,” Dr. Feinberg concluded.